Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to Paint Your Miniature

Actually, I need to provide a disclaimer here...this may not be the best "how to" you've ever read!

At left is the start of a mid-20th Century Coca-Cola vending machine model I'm making for the barbershop. I had carefully cut out my wood and glued it together to the precise measurements, sanded it to make the nice rounded corners, and sprayed it with several coats of BIN primer. I used wet-dry 600 sandpaper, dampened it, and smoothed each layer of the primer. After the second coat, I began to sand it with two levels of grit - the 600 to remove any big junk and then 1500 wet/dry to smooth it even further. (I dipped the paper into a bowl of water and sanded in a circular motion, taking care NOT to scrub too hard along the edges.)  And my model was beginning to look pretty good!

I realized that when I started to hand paint the red latex paint , I needed some way to hold the miniature, since I needed to paint ALL of the sides, and if I held it any places where I'd already painted, I be leaving huge fingerprints in my paint. So, I drilled a small hole in the bottom, and inserted a long screw into it, which serves as a "handle" for me to use so that I can paint. The handle worked great for drying, too. I took a pair of vice grips and snapped them down on the screw, and had a very sturdy way of holding the vending machine right where I needed it. So far, so good!

Then I started adding layers of the red, latex paint that I had specially mixed for me at the hardware store. I got four coats on the piece, and things were looking pretty good. Maybe I hurried it too much, and didn't wait long enough for the paint to dry. Maybe I pressed too hard with my sandpaper. Maybe I needed to change the water to remove any impurities from previous coats I'd sanded.  I'm not sure what caused the sanding to go wrong. At any rate, as I was carefully sanding with my 1500 wet/dry sandpaper, large chunks of the red paint peeled away all the way back down to the primer coat! YIKES! (Actually, I said something a little stronger than that...) So, tomorrow, I will start over - maybe with a different kind of paint...

If you want to know what it's supposed to look like when it's done, here's a link to a picture of it on the Web: I will show you a picture of the vending machine once it's done.


Margaret said...

What a shame it looks so good in the photo. Have you ever used a hairdryer to fast-dry the paint?

Tabitha Corsica said...

Bummer.... I'm always suspicious when things seem to be going too well ;-). Sorry to hear about this. I'd be tossing it but you seem to be the kind of person who will persevere until the problem is solved and the piece is beautiful! I admire that. Good luck with this project.


George the Miniguy said...

At first I allowed it to air dry. Then I used the hair dryer. When things fell apart, I had just used it. I wonder if I might have softened it with the heat? I've repainted with a different brand of paint. I used the hair dryer to dry this time, but I'm going to let it sit for several hours to allow it to further harden. We'll see if that helps.

Abner said...

I liked piece of effort. You highlighted it well. I have never used a hair dryer to fast dry the paint. I will try it if improved consequences are prearranged. Thanks!
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